Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.
Web Design & Digital Marketing

Obituary: Oddball musical genius Joe Hall

Joe Hall possessed one of the most fertile imaginations in Canadian songwriting. His concerts in the 1970s and 80s are the stuff of legend: frenetic displays of eclectic music and absurdist theatre in which he seemed to have narrowly escaped a straitjacket. Although his star dimmed in subsequent decades, the prolific artist never stopped writing songs, recording and performing. When news spread recently that he had died, fans across Canada mourned the loss of a gifted, lovable oddball whose commercial success never matched his unbridled talent.During Mr. Hall’s heyday touring widely with his band the Continental Drift, he often drew comparisons to Frank Zappa for wild performances of songs s...
Continue reading
  1230 Hits

Toronto Songs: Gordon Lightfoot's On Yonge Street

Gordon Lightfoot got his start on Yonge Street, not in Yorkville. Although the bard of Canadian song is often associated with Yorkville’s Riverboat coffeehouse, where he first became a star while performing weeklong stints in the mid-1960s, his first real home as a solo artist was Steele’s Tavern, at 349 Yonge. A two-storey operation run by Greek restaurateur Steele Basil, Steele’s was sandwiched between Yonge Street’s famously competitive record stores: Sam’s and A&A’s. There, in the upstairs Venetian Lounge, Lightfoot performed his songs for anyone who would listen, often competing with the clink of beer glasses and televised hockey games for people’s attention.Lightfoot had traveled d...
Continue reading
  1734 Hits

Music Review: Lori Yates - Breaking Point

Lori Yates' country roots run deep--in Toronto's Queen Street music scene, not Nashville. So when CBS Records signed the singer and flew her down to Music City to record a debut album in 1989, it proved to be a mistake: Can't Stop the Girl not only took the girl our of the country, it also took the country--at least Yates' special brand of it--out of the girl. Five years later, the spirited singer finally gets the introduction she deserves with Breaking Point, a superb collection of rocking country and bluesy pop tunes written and performed with the cream of Queen Street talent. A gritty heartache number like "Make a Liar Out of Me," with backup vocals by Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy and guitarist...
Continue reading
  725 Hits

Toronto Songs: Neil Young's Ambulance Blues

Neil Young (left) with Four to Go's Ken Koblum and Geordie McDonald
Neil Young returned to the city of his birth in 1965, determined to break into Toronto’s flourishing music scene. He’d arrived with his Winnipeg group, the Squires, but their new folk-rock sound fell on deaf ears. Even changing their name to Four to Go failed to make a difference. So Young parted ways with his bandmates and launched himself as a solo folksinger.Before leaving Winnipeg, Young had become enamored of Bob Dylan’s music and taught himself to play “Four Strong Winds,” Ian Tyson’s Canada-referencing response to “Blowin’ in the Wind.” He’d also encountered Joni Mitchell, who was performing at the Fourth Dimension coffeehouse with her husband. After the show, Young went up to Joni, t...
Continue reading
  946 Hits

Toronto Songs: Murray McLauchlan's Down By the Henry Moore

Photo by Bart Schoales
 Murray McLauchlan moved downtown and never looked back. Armed with a guitar and a backpack, he ran away from home at the age of 17 and headed straight to Yorkville. He wound up crashing at the Village Corner coffeehouse, sleeping on a mattress in the basement and soaking up the sounds of guitarists like Amos Garrett and Jim McCarthy and folksingers including Al Cromwell and Elyse Weinberg. The Village Corner had been the place where artists like Ian & Sylvia, Gordon Lightfoot, David Wiffen and Bonnie Dobson all got their start.The son of a trade unionist, McLauchlan developed an artistic flair while attending Central Technical School, where he took classes from renowned Canadian pa...
Continue reading
  1042 Hits